Exclusion of persons with disabilities, specifically people with stammer/stutter in
the KDF recruitment exercise.
Nairobi, Kenya, 19th August 2023:
Our attention has been drawn to discriminatory practices revealed by the Vice Chief of
Defense Forces while speaking during Citizen TV’s JKlive Show
https://shorturl.at/glwCN as he made a call for Kenya Defense Forces (KDF)
recruitment exercise set to begin on August 28th 2023.
The remarks made in response to a viewer’s question on why KDF doesn’t recruit
people who stammer implied that people who stammer are unable to communicate
effectively and they are less competitive. This in effect minimizes their chances of being
recruited. This viewpoint is discriminatory and undermines diversity, inclusion, and
equality principles essential in a free and inclusive society, principles that KDF also
upholds and promotes.
These principles are envisioned by our legal frameworks including, Art 10(2) (b) of our
2010 constitution, Employment Act 2007 Art 3(a) which prohibits discrimination in
employment on the basis of disability as well as provisions in the Persons with
Disabilities Act 2003. Additionally, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with
Disabilities (which Kenya is party to) in Article 9 on Accessibility, specifically its General
Comment specifies in paragraph 37, that persons with disabilities cannot effectively
enjoy their work and employment rights, as described in article 27 of the Convention, if
the workplace itself is not accessible. Workplaces therefore have to be accessible, as is
explicitly indicated in article 9, paragraph 1(a). A refusal to adapt the workplace
constitutes a prohibited act of disability-based discrimination.
Communication encompasses various forms, ways, and methods. A standard way of
communicating that excludes a large population should not be encouraged. Persons
with disabilities including persons who stammer have the ability and competence to
compete and perform in the workplace as other persons without disabilities.
Stammering or not stammering should not be used as a yardstick to evaluate a person’s
abilities or as a measure of how effectively the person is likely to perform their job.
Individuals should be selected based on their skills, character, and dedication to the
profession, not on their speech patterns.
We call on KDF to level the playing ground by expanding recruitment opportunities to
persons with disabilities by providing reasonable accommodations as per individual
needs and inclusive services such as Sign Language Interpretation and innovative
inclusive communication approaches. KDF is obligated under the UNCRPD Article 21
(b) to accept and facilitate the use of sign languages, augmentative and alternative
communication, and all other means, modes and formats of communication of the
choice of persons with disabilities in official interactions. KDF should therefore leverage
innovations around Assistive Technologies (AT) and Augmentative and alternative
communications (AAC) to ensure their recruitment and job placement practices are all
inclusive. There are many areas in KDF where persons with disabilities can effectively
serve. The idea is to adopt recruitment practices that seek to include rather than
exclude persons with disabilities in the service to our country.